Babies learn to see over a period of time, much like they learn to walk and talk. They are not born with all the visual abilities they need in life. The ability to focus their eyes, move them accurately, and use them together must be learned. They also need to learn how to use the visual information the eyes send to their brain in order to understand the world around them and interact with it appropriately. From birth, babies begin exploring the world with their eyes. Before they learn to reach and grab with their hands, or crawl and sit-up, their eyes are providing information and stimulation important for their development. Eye and vision problems can cause developmental delays. It’s important to detect any problems early to ensure that your baby has the opportunity to develop the visual skills they need to grow and learn. There are many things you can do to help protect your child’s eyes and vision during their first year:
- Place toys within your baby’s focus, only 8-12 inches away.
- Encourage your baby to crawl. This develops eye-to-hand coordination.
- Talk to your baby as you move around the room to encourage his or her eyes to follow you.
- Hang a mobile above or outside your baby’s crib.
- Give your baby toys that they can hold and look at.
Babies learn by using their senses. They explore and discover by touching and mouthing objects, hearing voices and music, and seeing the colorful, fascinating wonder all around them. But the most important part of your child’s early learning experiences is you. It is through interactions and experiences with loved and trusted adults that babies begin to make sense of the world. Encourage your baby to explore. You will see your baby act on natural curiosity about the people and objects around as he or she:
- Looks carefully at your face
- Inspects her hands, fingers, feet and toes
- Rolls to get closer to a person she wants to connect with or to an interesting object
- Babbles and then waits for your response
- Looks at and reaches for objects that interest her.
- Responds to familiar words like baba, mama, dada, night-night, teddy bear, etc.
Make sure your baby is following moving objects with his or her eyes and developing eye-to-hand coordination. If he or she seems delayed, talk to your child’s pediatrician.